Ownership of land can be thought of as a bundle of rights and can include mineral, water and logging rights, as well as the right to subdivide and develop the land. When a willing landowner donates or sells their development rights, they retain all other rights and responsibilities associated with the land, but the right to develop or subdivide their parcel is permanently relinquished through a legal agreement (generally in the form of a conservation easement).  The development rights are held by a qualified conservation organization, such as a non-profit land trust or governmental entity.

The landowner retains full ownership and use of the property after the development rights are sold and he/she is able to sell the restricted land or pass it on to future generations.   Moreover, a purchase of development rights provides cash for a landowner and may result in a reduction of estate taxes and/or property taxes on the protected property.  The proceeds of any sale may, however, be subject to capital gains taxes and remain part of the landowner’s taxable estate.

The availability of this tool is limited based on funding.  To learn more about this conservation tool and any other conservation options please contact Stephen Searl stephen@northshorelandalliance.org, Director of Land Conservation.

Success Story

Meyer’s Farm, Woodbury, NY

Located on Woodbury Road by Candor Drive, the Meyer’s Farm is one of the last remaining farms in Nassau County.  It is much beloved by the local community.  In 2006, with proceeds from the 2004 Environmental Bond Program, Nassau County acquired the development rights for this 8.5-acre property for $4.3 million..  This purchase of development rights allowed the Meyer’s family to make the improvements necessary to continue farming and operating their very popular local farmstand.

Had the County not bought the development rights this 8.5-acre parcel might have been sold for development.  Instead, the Meyer’s family will continue to own the farm and be able to pass it along to the next generation.